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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 26, 2010

Ciachetti and Cannistraci: Life-long friends and teammates at UAlbany

By Jordan J. Michael

ALBANY –– Caleb Ciachetti and Nick Cannistraci, both of Guilderland, are a prime example of inseparable friends.

First, they’ve played soccer together since childhood. Second, they’re both freshmen at the University at Albany where they’ll play for the men’s soccer team, while rooming together. Third, their last names are very similar –– long and Italian, beginning with “C.” Lastly, they’re both considering a major in business management.

“People get us confused all the time,” said Ciachetti at a Great Danes’ practice on Tuesday morning. “We’ve been counterparts for a long time and we have the same tactics.”

“We just get along really well,” Cannistraci said.

Cannistraci and Ciachetti joined the UAlbany team after playing for a very disciplined Dutchmen team that won a school-record 22 games and a Class AA title in 2008. Ciachetti was a Suburban Council First Team All-Star and Cannistraci made the third team.

“They are young, motivated, talented, and have tremendous attitudes,” said UAlbany Head Coach Johan Aarnio, who used to teach Ciachetti and Cannistraci in summer camps. “That’s what a coach likes, and they fit that.”

Guilderland Head Coach Mike Kinnally was happy to hear that UAlbany recruited some nice local talent. He mentioned that the Great Danes don’t usually bring in local recruits.

“Caleb and Nick were a big part of our success as a team,” Kinnally said on Wednesday. “I wonder how they’ll handle the pressure of Division I, but I won’t sell them short because they always battle.”

Cannistraci and Ciachetti searched through a handful of colleges, but felt inclined to stay local.

“We didn’t have to go far to find great academics and athletics,” said Cannistraci. “Education always comes first, but soccer was a good draw.”

“Coach Aarnio contacted me and that was it,” Ciachetti said.

The two former Dutch teammates were hustling up and down the practice field on Tuesday during two separate scrimmage sessions. Ciachetti even scored a goal off a nicely placed head ball. Aarnio said that both players will be fighting for positions in the mid-field.

“They’re important to the team, regardless of how much time they get,” Aarnio said. “They have four years to grow and learn.”

The Danes are bringing back 15 letterwinners and seven starters from 2009. “We have a lot of players who have gone through the steps,” said Aarnio. “Nothing is guaranteed.”

“Take the best player from every team that we ever played in high school and times that by like 20,” Cannistraci said, describing his UAlbany teammates.

“It’s a lot faster and a lot more physical,” said Ciachetti. “No weak players.”

UAlbany struggled last year, going 0-13-3, and the team was picked last in the 2010 America East Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. But, the Danes were picked to finish last in 2008 and ended up placing second in the division.

“We were very competitive last year but nothing went for us,” said Aarnio. “Forget it and move forward.”

Ciachetti and Cannistraci are aware that the Danes didn’t win a single game last season, but they’re excited just to have an opportunity with a Divison I soccer program.

“We’re not worried about winning,” said Ciachetti. “We’re out here grinding to get time in a game.”

“Every year is a new start,” Cannistraci said. “We’ll both work as hard as we can to make this team better.”

Coach Aarnio told The Enterprise that Cannistraci has good close control and good passing, while Ciachetti provides an uncanny touch and great vision.

“Some freshmen come in with unteachable skills,” said Aarnio. “They’re tremendous young players that will be able to develop. And, best of all, they’re positive team members.”

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